Lancaster City missed a chance to move clear at the top of the table with a disappointing performance against play-off chasing Colne at Giant Axe on Saturday.
Fortunately for the Dollies, title-rivals Farsley dropped points in their 1-1 draw with Droylsden meaning City ended the day with their fate still in their own hands with five games to play.
The match itself couldn’t have got off to a worse start as Colne took the lead after just three minutes.
A simple ball over the defence resulted in hesitation between defenders and goalkeeper with Jason Hart having the simple task of lobbing the ball over a stranded Mike Hale to open the scoring for the visitors.
With the pitch at Giant Axe no conducive to flowing football Phil Brown’s side struggled to find any rhythm with chances at both ends at a premium.
Ryan Winder was the first to get a shot on target for Lancaster with a long-range effort that was comfortably saved by ‘keeper Greg Hartley before the home side had a big shout for a penalty waved away.
Beating the visiting ‘keeper to a loose ball on the left side of the area striker Tom Kilifin appeared to be taken out from behind but the referee only pointed for a goal kick to City’s disbelief.
Things got even worse for Lancaster when the Reds doubled their advantage on the half hour.
Midfielder Simon Nangle hit a 25-yard free-kick firmly against the bar with the rebound hitting Hale before breaking for Spencer Jordan to score from close range.
The second half wasn’t much better in terms of goal-mouth action with Colne sitting deep and defending in numbers and City unable to break them down.
The visitors were allowing the Dolly Blues time and space on the ball but the final pass and general play in the final third wasn’t up to the home side’s usual high standards.
But City had a lifeline with 20 minutes to play when they were awarded a penalty following a goal-mouth scramble.
Top scorer Jordan Connerton made absolutely no mistake from 12 yards to make it 2-1 and give City some hope.
Lancaster piled on the pressure in numbers in the closing stages but just couldn’t create the clear chance they needed to draw level.
Colne on the counter-attack were a constant threat as City threw bodies forward, Hart unlucky to see his effort rebound off the post on the breakaway.
Despite the tremendous second-half effort from the hosts it wasn’t to be as Colne defended superbly up to the final whistle to seal victory.